Maintaining the trees surrounding your home is necessary for promoting your trees’ growth, checking for the over-all health of the trees, and removing hazardous branches from your yard. Sick or damaged branches also steal water from the rest of your tree, which prevents the tree from sending all those nutrients to its healthy branches.
To protect your loved ones and keep your trees looking pristine and vibrant, you’ll need to prune your trees with a purpose.
Here are 3 steps for pruning trees:
Step 1: Evaluating your trees
Before you take out your pruning shears and have at it, you will need to evaluate your trees, taking in a number of factors:
Consider the seasons
The ideal time to prune trees for an increased growth is right before spring, when your trees have yet to grow new leaves. This is especially true for fruit trees and deciduous trees, as allowing the fruit or new leaves to grow on a tree by waiting too long into the spring causes them to bear unnecessary fruit or leaves.
If you want to slow the growth of your trees, however, the best time to do the pruning is towards the end of summer or early fall, as this will decrease the tree’s overall growth. Pruning in late spring or early summer increases your tree’s chances of developing fungus or becoming infested, as the open wounds made by the pruning shears cause it to be exposed during the time when insects and rain are most prominent.
Note that if your tree has been damaged by inclement weather or other factors, then you don’t need to wait to prune the damaged section. Immediately remove the damaged section to allow your tree to heal efficiently.
Inspect the branches
Now that you’ve taken into account the appropriate time of year for pruning your trees, it’s time to inspect the branches. Look for sick, broken, or obstructive branches while you do your inspection. Be sure to evaluate the entire area to make sure no unhealthy branches are missed during the inspection, and take note of the branches or trees that will need pruning.
Additionally, if you like visuals or have a large number of trees, consider mapping out the areas you plan on pruning to better keep track of the work that needs to be done, ticking off each finished tree as you go.
Part 2: Planning to prune
After establishing which trees need pruning, it’s time to prepare for the pruning itself. Though it may seem straightforward, planning out what tools you need and how to effectively prune your trees will do wonders for the pruning process.
Here’s what you’ll need to do:
Make sure you have the right tools
Depending on the types of trees and size of the branches, you will need to make sure you have exactly the tools you need to do the job. As a rule of thumb, here are the necessary pruning tools for trees:
- Hand shears- for small branches
- Lopping shears- for medium branches
- Pruning saw- for larger branches
- Pole pruners- for thick, hard-to-reach branches
- Protective gear such as gloves and safety glasses
Know the right pruning techniques
Different sizes call for different techniques. While small branches require only hand shears and simple, 45% angle cuts slightly above the bud to get it right, larger branches require more involved techniques, as you don’t want to tear the bark:
- First, make a cut underneath the branch, about 18 inches away from where the branch meets the trunk.
- Second, cut the top of the branch, just past the initial cut. This will allow the branch to break off.
- Then, make a cut a few inches away from where the branch meets the trunk of the tree (also known as the branch collar). This will allow the tree to heal more quickly. Try to avoid leaving a stub by cutting as close to the branch collar as possible. You might need to make multiple cuts to break off the stub.
Part 2: Pruning your trees
You’ve got a good layout of the trees in your yard, you have the necessary equipment, and now you have the pruning methods you want to use under belt, so get ready to start the actual pruning process.
- Start by removing the branches that are clearly sick, damaged, or broken. Clearing up the obvious branches first makes it easier to see the less obvious ones.
- Then, move onto dense areas of the tree, where branch crisscross, as these branches are more likely to wear one another down and break later down the road. This also enables light to better reach the branches within the denser sections and reduces your tree’s chances of developing fungus and harmful insects.
- After that, prune branches that are potential obstruction hazards. Branches that are growing towards power cables, fences, windows, and roofs are all likely to cause problems if they continue to grow or fall on these objects.
Additional tips for pruning trees
To make sure you do the job right, keep in mind these additional tips to help you successfully prune your trees:
- Avoid Pruning Major Branches
If it can be avoided, try not to cut off major branches unless they pose a safety risk.
- Don’t over-prune
Prune as few branches as you can, as each branch you cut affects your tree’s over-all health. While removing unhealthy branches benefits your tree, removing obstructive branches, pruning densely packed branches, and shaping your branches for aesthetic purposes can pay a toll on your tree.
- Pruning tree suckers
For attractive-looking trees, prune the tree suckers (branches emerging at the base of the trunk), and waterspouts (suckers that are growing further up the trunk).
Removing branches from your trees promotes the growth of healthy branches, removes obstruction potentials, and prevents broken or sick branches from falling on you or your loved ones. By taking the right steps and pruning your trees, you will improve the appearance of your lawn and keep your home and trees looking pristine.
John is the founder of Tweed Tree Service, a local tree maintenance service in the Tweed Valley. We have extensive experience with pruning, tree care and land or garden restoration. Tree lopping is a delicate task that requires experience and skill, we are able to achieve successful outcomes for both you and the environment. We offer a comprehensive Arboricultural service in all aspects of care and conservation of trees and tree cutting.